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What is the value of a compelling story? What’s the ROI of messaging that effectively describes what a product does, its value and why it matters to target audiences?

Sometimes, the answers are difficult to quantify. While good stories are powerful, how do you know if they deliver value?

In some cases, storytelling is working when people instantly understand its value and how it could work for them. In a fast-moving world, quickly and clearly communicating is crucial. Brands with bad stories struggle because consumers have little patience for ambiguity.

As someone who crafts storytelling for startups, a major challenge is getting customers to understand the value and benefits of good stories. They know their business is missing a key ingredient because Websites don’t convert or prospects fail to see value propositions to get them into the sales funnel.

From the outside looking in, the problem is bad stories or a lack of stories. For people focused on product and sales, storytelling is a strange creature. And having to pay someone to develop their stories is a tough pill to swallow. It’s their business so they know it best, right?

From my experience, the ROI of good storytelling is like the MasterCard “Priceless” advertisements.

Sometimes, you can’t assign a value on good stories but they deliver in big ways. Good stories and compelling value propositions super-charge a startup’s sales and marketing activities. It is everything from a better Website and engaging one-pagers to attractive presentations and entertaining videos.

While the benefits of storytelling are often not obvious or immediate, there is lots of long-term value. It is a matter of having faith and embracing the ability of storytelling to deliver ROI.

In some cases, the ROI of storytelling is obvious. On the Ceros blog, Justin Lafferty talked about two researchers, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, who created SignificantObjects to test the value of storytelling. Walker and Glenn purchased knick-knacks for about $1.50 each, created stories about them, and sold them on eBay.

storytellingA $128.74 investment generated $3,612.51 in sales when powered by stories.

Lesson: People are willing to pay more for products that feature stories.

A good example of storytelling is Que Pasa organic tortilla chips. On the back of each bag is a story about how Que Pasa’s founders, Joe & Maria, decided to make their own organic tortilla chips. It is a story about how two people discovered entrepreneurial success. It is a story that, I believe, helps Que Pasa sell a product that is more expensive than other chips.

It is a story about how two people discovered entrepreneurial success. It is a story that, I believe, helps Que Pasa sell a product that is more expensive than other chips.

Calculating the ROI of storytelling is a mixed bag. Sometimes, it is easy to quantify ROI. Sometimes, the value is anecdotal. It is a belief in building better connections with target audiences.

As a storyteller, stories deliver ROI in different ways. It is what makes them so compelling and necessary for startups to drive their success.


I’ve worked with dozens of startups and fast-growing companies looking to accelerate their marketing and storytelling. My services are driven by frameworks and processes to create messaging, strategic plans and content. If you want marketing that makes a difference, let’s talk. If you are looking for hand-picked startup content, subscribe to my weekly newsletter.

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